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Store employee jailed with no bond after shooting one of three masked intruders who broke into business — and store owner is furious at authorities


The employee had been under a protective order to not have a firearm

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

A Virginia store employee was jailed with no bond after shooting at three masked intruders who allegedly broke into the business, wounding one of them, WJLA-TV reported — and the owner of the Arlington Smoke Shop is outraged at authorities.

What happened?

Arlington County Police said three suspects forced their way into the smoke shop to steal cash and merchandise just before 5 a.m. Sunday, the station said.

Image source: WJLA-TV video screenshot

Hamzeh Abushariah, 33 — who was temporarily staying at the store and sleeping in a back room — got up and grabbed one of two guns that store owner Jowan Aqrawi purchased two weeks ago due to concerns over coronavirus crime spikes, WJLA reported.

"We bought protection for the store just in case, because on Facebook you see a lot of robberies, a lot of things going on," Aqrawi explained to the station.

Image source: WJLA-TV video screenshot

Abushariah opened the door to the sales floor and fired the gun, hitting one of the suspects — a juvenile, police told WJLA. He then retreated to the back room before reentering the sales floor and firing the gun again as the suspects tried to flee the business, police added to the station.

The wounded juvenile is expected to survive, the station noted, adding that breaking and entering charges are anticipated for the trio of alleged intruders.

Book thrown at employee

But Abushariah had the book thrown at him. He was charged with malicious wounding, reckless handling of a firearm, and violation of a protective order, WJLA said. Police told the station the protective order violation is due to Abushariah having been ordered to not to have a firearm — and as a result, he was jailed with no bond.

Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti offered the following statement to WJLA: "I cannot ethically discuss an ongoing investigation because doing so would not only risk compromising our work but also unfairly impede on the rights of the accused and interfere with the investigation. Suffice it to say, there is evidence we are not at liberty to share that support[s] the charges, the decision was not made lightly, and we ask the public not to rush to judgment on what is very much a live investigation."


Aqrawi is furious over the charges leveled against his employee and told the station the shooting should have been considered self-defense: "4:30 a.m., three masked men entering your home where you're asleep. Put yourself in that position, and you'll have a better understanding."

The store owner added to WJLA that Abushariah was staying at the smoke shop to save money and to avoid the coronavirus, which had affected his Washington, D.C., apartment complex. Abushariah also is a father of two children who were not at the store at the time of the incident, the station said.

Image source: WJLA-TV video screenshot

Fox News' Tucker Carlson interviewed Aqrawi on Tuesday night about the incident and its aftermath, and the store owner noted that "the neighbor upstairs said when they broke the window it sounded like a car smashing into the store. The employee said it sounded like a shotgun."

"It's very sad for America today as American citizens practice their Second Amendment to protect the store and their lives," the owner added. "Do you know what the police officer told [Abushariah]? 'Why didn't you run out the back door?'"

Aqrawi added to Carlson that when he went to the jail to bond out his employee, the prosecutor appealed the $25,000 bond.

"This is very sad," the store owner told Fox News. "I was born in Arlington, I pay taxes. The gun is registered and everything is perfect. But I can't believe as American citizens we are being treated like this. And this gets the criminals out there [thinking], 'We can go rob stuff, kill people and hurt people and guess what, people have to run out the back door.' This is mind-boggling."

Aqrawi told Carlson that he's concerned about Abushariah's health after hearing him coughing heavily after only a short time in jail.

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